SINGAPORE: A man who set fire to four towels at Hotel 81 after he was told that only two people were allowed in the room was sentenced to three months’ jail on Wednesday (Apr 21).
Lau Sheng Shiun, 34, was convicted of one count of mischief by fire last month for using a lit cigarette to set four towels alight at a hotel in Lavender Street on Sep 12, 2017.
The court heard that Lau, a captain in the Republic of Singapore Navy, had gone drinking with co-accused Chua Wen Hao – Lau’s navy subordinate – at a karaoke lounge that night when they met a Vietnamese girl. The trio went to Hotel 81 Violet, where Chua checked into a room with the girl.
At about 9.30pm, Lau entered the hotel and went to the room, but was spotted by the front desk employee, who saw him entering the room on closed-circuit television footage.
As this was in breach of the hotel’s policy to allow no more than two people in a room, she tried to call the room but could not get through. She went to the room and knocked on it to tell Chua that only two people could be inside.
Lau asked the employee if he could book a room for three people but was rejected and left the hotel via the back door. He began smoking at the back of the hotel, where crates of towels were kept, and set fire to some of them.
A passer-by saw the towels on fire at about 9.50pm and alerted the hotel staff, who put out the fire and called the police. The damage cost the hotel S$60.
Lau claimed trial to the charge, saying he was too drunk to remember what happened and incapable of forming the intention to commit the offence.
He said he burnt the towels because he was “probably frustrated that there wasn’t a room for three persons”. He intends to appeal against his conviction and sentence.
Chua was previously fined S$2,500 for giving false information to a public servant, as he had lied to the police that he did not know Lau. He claimed he did not allow Lau to enter the room.
For committing mischief by fire, he could have been jailed up to seven years and fined.
In a statement, the Ministry of Defence (MINDEF) said that Lau is currently suspended from the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF).
“The SAF holds its servicemen to high standards of discipline and integrity, and expects them to abide by the law,” said MINDEF.
“Those who commit offences will be dealt with in accordance with the law. If convicted, they could face further actions from the SAF, which may include discharge from service.
“Captain Lau is currently suspended from the SAF. As court proceedings are ongoing, MINDEF/SAF is unable to comment further on the case at this moment.”